Social media is all the rage but many nonprofits haven’t made this new and important tool part of their communications toolbox. There are tons of good reasons why organizations haven’t jumped into social media. I understand. The reasons we hear regularly are:
It takes too much time.
I’m waiting until our new website is finished.
I don’t know what do to so I’m not doing anything.
Someone created a page for us on MySpace and it doesn’t seem to be working.
I really don’t understand how this works.
If it doesn’t raise money, we’re not going to do it.
We don’t have the resources to do social media.
Sound familiar? I understand.
But here are some facts:
Fact #1: 3 out of 4 Americans use Social Media (Forrester, The Growth Of Social Technology Adoption, 2008). 75% gang. Do you really want to miss out on an opportunity to connect with that many people? Certainly, social media isn’t the only way to communicate with them, but if people who could be your donors and supporters are using a communications tool, you really need use it, too. You wouldn’t ignore email or phone contacts just because you didn’t “need” it would you? Of course not.
Fact #2: Visiting social media sites is the 4th most popular online activity…and get this, that’s ahead of personal email (Nielsen, Global Faces & Networked Places, 2009). So statistically, you should do social media before you do email. Again, not saying that is good strategy, but I am saying that social media is HUGE. One mistake a lot of us make is not recognizing all of the different kinds of social media channels. There’s social media sites like Facebook and MySpace but also sites you many not have thought of as social media: YouTube and Flickr are huge social media portals. Check out Wikipedia’s social media page for a bewildering list of social media sites. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_media> You have to find what makes sense for you and where you can go to find your supporters.
Fact #3: The time spent on social media sites and networks is growing 3 times faster than the overall internet (Nielsen, Global Faces & Networked Places, 2009). Internet use is growing like crazy and social media use is growing even faster! Using social media correctly doesn’t usually take a lot of technical skill but it does require learning how each site operates. Don’t think technical skills think social skills. You have to learn what to say and what to do. Every day that you way, the longer it will take you to get up to speed.
Bottomline… you can’t sit on the sidelines. If you do, you could end up too far behind to catch up. Just because you don’t use social media, don’t make the mistake of thinking that your supporters aren’t. Odds are…they are. Social media has become mainstream not just cutting edge. Don’t get fooled into thinking that it is youth centric–it’s not. People of all ages are on these sites. And if you don’t get into social medai, you will really wish you did.
So how do you get started?
Pick out a channel like YouTube or Facebook and just watch. Ask people you know what they are using. Maybe don’t ask them if they use social media, but ask if they’ve seen Facebook or YouTube or Flickr or Twitter. Don’t just ask a few people, ask around. I bet you’ll be surprised at the number of people who are using the technology. “Watch and listen” first is the advice Hoots always gives when people are getting started. It saves you from embarrassment later and will help you learn what works. You don’t have to commit a bunch of money or go out and hire a staff person to do social media. That probably is as big a mistake as ignoring it. But you do need to start…now.
Take the plunge. Check out this video. This kid is building a following lipsyncing in Apple stores. He had 34,000 views of this video to date (he has several videos). Ummm… 34,000 viewings!?! So don’t talk to me about not having the resources. This kid doesn’t even own the computer he’s using. Talk about resourceful! (Even more, I was nervous doing our first video in our office…can you imagine doing this in the middle of an Apple store? I’m thinking the white sun glasses are the key.) Do you have videos on your website? How many views are you getting? Wouldn’t you enjoy having this kind of attention for your organization?
We’d love to hear what you’re doing with this social media thing. What’s working for you? Why haven’t you taken the plunge? As always, we’d love to hear what you’re thinking.
(photo credit: Ivan Walsh)